Made by Amanda Olesen and Robert Walker, Information Experience Design, Royal College of Art, March 2016
Inspired by Adam Curtis’ All watched over by machines of loving grace and the original poem by R. Brautigan, Clear Sky explores the historic view of the interrelation of environmental systems and biological entities and the contemporary techno mediated perception of this interrelation. As a complement to the static taxidermy butterflies in the vitrine, on the outside, disconnected, hybrid butterfly wings move unpredictably, animated by live data from extreme weather warnings, thereby "reversing" the butterfly effect ("the flutter of a butterfly's wings can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world"). By abstracting the symbolic poetic gesture of the butterfly’s wing flap, we at once focus on the common comprehensible experience of nature and the causal disconnect that characterises the general understanding of global environmental systems. Through experiencing this data driven gesture we propose that techno mediation can reveal the dynamics and interconnectivity across scales and make us emotionally responsive.
The live data is supplied by a raspberry pi which pulls the RSS feed from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center. The feed contains textual reports. Much of the content is codified but delivered as parts of a prose message. This message is converted into morse code and then gpio pin signals using Python. The gpio pins activate a v9 circuit driving 2 20cm stretches of 150μm flexinol. Dots activate the circuit for 0.85 seconds, dashes for 1.7 seconds. The flexinol is threaded through a nylon mesh attached to the wings.
Read an article about the project here: http://www.rca.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/filmmaker-adam-curtis-unearths-future-challenges-immersive-storytelling/.